Cruise Director Gaby made it clear that we wouldn’t be allowed to leave the ship in the morning since the Cambodian border officials had already stamped our passports as having left the country. We’d have to take her word for it since none of us had seen our passports since we gave them to the purser before leaving Siem Reap some days back. We were some hours from the Vietnamese border yet, and had been forewarned that the border formalities for a shipload of passengers could take another four hours once we got there. Hence, we would spend Monday in limbo, a day at sea, or at river, as it was.
Continue reading 08. A Day on the River Limbo
I had been in Cambodia for five days. In addition to visiting the major tourist city, Siem Reap, I’ve taken a five-hour bus ride across the countryside, spent two nights on a river boat, and visited a school, factories, and villages. Most Cambodians live what can be euphemistically described as a simple life. Dirt poor is probably a better description.
In theory, I support tourism for the economic benefits it provides to such people. Continue reading 07. My Great Cambodian Depression
Our arrival at the village of Kampong Tralach provided the opportunity for an ox cart ride. I cannot claim this was on my bucket list. Nevertheless Frank and I put on our smelliest clothing, debarked the ship and boarded an oxen buttock buttressed buckboard. We were assigned to the English-speaking oxen, but all the passengers jumped at this rare chance, creating a bizarre scene as the parade of westerners rumbled through the village in a caravan of over a dozen ox carts.
Continue reading 06. Ox Cart Aerobics and Buddhist Blessing Yoga
There are a couple drawbacks to taking a Mekong River cruise downstream from Siem Reap, particularly during Cambodia’s brief but convincing dry season. First, the Mekong River doesn’t go anywhere near Siem Reap, making the proposed excursion an impossibility any time of year. Instead, the cruises usually start on nearby Lac Tonle Sap, crossing its length before proceeding down the Tonle Sap River, which meets the Mekong at Phnom Penh. During the dry season, even that is an impossibility, as the lake drops nine to twelve meters. At the moment it is only a half-meter deep, making it easier to hike than cruise. Continue reading 05. Cruising Cambodia